Diana, a resident of our Buena Vista group home, has received assistance with her moderate intellectual disability at Association House for years. With the help of AHC, she increased her competency areas and even held a job, which has allowed her to save money for an annual trip to celebrate her birthday. Her past trips included cruises and island adventures, but this year’s 77th birthday trip was especially meaningful.

For those who work with Diana, they know she often spoke of her family but she had not physically met them and staff did not have a method of contacting them. Diana was born with a disability and at the time, the state encouraged her mother to give her up due to the belief she would not live past age 11 or 12. Her mother moved to Florida but would check in on her daughter and even visit.

That all changed this year. After her mother passed, there was an error with Diana’s residency paperwork, which was disputed by Association House staff. The United States government reached back out to our staff member and detailed the issue was fixed but they stumbled upon a link to Diana’s family in Phoenix. The representative contacted the family to ensure their contact information could be exchanged. The family agreed and Diana’s next birthday trip destination was found.

Diana has an older brother and two younger sisters. With the assistance of a staff member, Diana traveled to Phoenix for three days, where she was greeted by her sister, who brought the family together to meet Diana. During the stay, Diana was taken to dinner, had a birthday pizza party, and learned details of her family. Not only did she return to Chicago with memories of her family, but also with a picture of herself as a child.

“It was amazing to be able to help Diana and to accompany her on the trip to Phoenix,” Jen Allen, Developmental Disabilities Programs Supervisor said. “I was able to get a first-hand experience of how important the moment was for her. Being around her, she always spoke about her family and the way she was able to connect with them was so incredible. It was a beautiful moment to be apart of and showed the importance of helping our participants.”

You can see pictures from Diana’s trip below.